Friday, December 5, 2014

How I use herbs - lemon balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and even though I already wrote about mint, peppermint andspearmint in my garden, at the time I didn’t have lemon balm. I only recently got a cutting from Pete’s parents and its doing really well in my garden now. It hasn’t flowered for me yet, but apparently the genus name (Melissa) is Greek for 'honey bee', because the flowers attract bees.

eight acres: how I use and grow lemon balm

How to grow lemon balm
Lemon balm is propagated very easily by root division. It has similar requirements to mint, preferring a cool damp area of the garden. If you grow it in a pot, make sure that the soil stays moist. It doesn’t spread with runners like mint, but just grows into a larger clump, so it is easier to control. Keep pruning the excess growth to keep it as a small bush and not too tall. I have read that lemon balm is frost sensitive, but mine grew through winter here, so maybe it can tolerate light frost, and it can grow back after a cooler winter if it does die off.

How to use lemon balm
Lemon balm tastes a little like mint, but with a more lemon-y flavour. I dry the leaves and use it for tea because I like the flavour. I will also chop it up with other herbs to use as a fresh garnish on salad, in yoghurt sauce and to casseroles and soups.

Due to the wide range of chemical constituents in lemon balm, it has a reputation for several healing properties:
As well as preparing the leaves as a tea, they can also be used to make a tincture or an infused oil, to be taken internally or used topically (more herehere and here).

For a herb that’s relatively easy to propagate and grow, it has a huge range of benefits and it tastes nice, so I am very happy to have it in my garden.

Do you grow lemon balm?  Do you use lemon balm?  


See my other herb posts: mintaloe verabasilginger, galangal and turmericcalendula, marigold and winter tarragonsoapwortcomfreynasturtiumparsley.and borage.

6 comments:

  1. When I have lemon balm (I regularly kill it) I like to add the chopped leaves to a jug of iced water. It looks pretty and tastes nice. I must get more. Thanks for the reminder.

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  2. Lemon Balm is something i am great at growing but have not know what to do with it. I know when i brush up against it in the garden the smell makes me feel refreshed. Im going to try the tea as im on a diet at the moment and need all the help i can get. Thanks

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  3. I had to comment just to keep the Lynda theme going. I love lemon balm but sadly I too regularly kill it. I must get more and dry it for tea (and endeavour to remember to water it more often)
    Lynda

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  4. Great post . I knew about lemon balm in tea and calming properties .. I was unaware of the other benefits. I have no problem growing it, in fact it takes over and pops up everywhere, much like mint. It is one of those plants I enjoy growing .. The smell is divine! :)

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  5. I just love lemon balm! I really do. It is one of my all-time favorite plants. I love lemony scents and i like to add lemon balm to my wax melts to give a boost of lemon scent.

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  6. I recently bought another tub of lemon balm, and have put it into a poly box along with spearmint, and hope they can live happily side by side..

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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